Mountain lion (Cougar)
Scientific name: Puma concolor
Cover photo credit: J.D. Taylor
“Endangered” means the species lives in the wild in Ontario but is facing imminent extinction or extirpation.
Date added to the Species at Risk in Ontario List
The Mountain lion (Cougar) was already assessed as endangered when the Endangered Species Act took effect in 2008.
What it looks like
The Cougar, also known as mountain lion and puma, is Canada’s largest and most powerful wildcat. Males can reach up to two metres in length and weigh over 60 kilograms. Adult Cougars have short fur that is brown or greyish (sometimes reddish) over most of the body, with a white chest and belly.
It has a long, black-tipped tail and black markings on the ears and muzzle. Kittens have spotted coats until they are about six months old. The Cougar is a shy animal rarely seen by humans.
Where it lives
The Cougar lives in large, undisturbed forests or other natural areas where there is little human activity.
The forest must support plenty of white-tailed deer, which is an important food source for the Cougar.
Where it’s been found in Ontario
The species has a very wide range, encompassing large areas of North, Central and South America. In Ontario, Cougars are most likely believed to live in northern Ontario because of the remoteness of the habitat.
However, there have been many reports from the southern part of the province.
Cougars found in Ontario may be escaped or released pets, animals dispersing from western North America, native animals or a combination of those factors. The population size is unknown.
What threatens it
The main threat to the Cougar is human disturbance and forest clearing, which destroys habitat and can reduce the prey necessary for the survival of this species.
Action we are taking
Endangered Species and their general habitat are automatically protected
General Habitat Protection - June 30, 2008
What you can do
Report a Sighting
- The Ministry of Natural Resources tracks species at risk such as the Mountain Lion. You can use a handy online form to report your sightings to the Natural Heritage Information Centre. Photographs with specific locations or mapping coordinates are always helpful.
- Volunteer with your local nature club or provincial park to participate in surveys or stewardship work focused on species at risk.
Be a good steward
- Private land owners have a very important role to play in species recovery. You may be eligible for stewardship programs that support the protection and recovery of species at risk and their habitats.
Report illegal activity
- Report any illegal activity related to plants and wildlife to 1-877-TIPS-MNR (847-7667).
- Cougars rarely chase their prey. They are masters of camouflage and will slowly and silently slink forward and then pounce. The Cougar usually hunts at night.
- Cougars are shy and normally avoid humans. If you see a Cougar stay calm, remain standing, and make yourself look large by holding your arms above your head. You should immediately back away slowly and leave the area. If the animal is aggressive throw objects at it – never run.
- Cougars are excellent swimmers and climbers and can jump more than six metres.
- Female Cougars have two to four kittens every two to four years. The family stays close together for up to two years while the young learn how to hunt.